New from City Lights Publishers: Deep Code by John Coletti

DeepCodeBy Alisha Casey

John Coletti’s book of poems, Deep Codemarks the twelfth volume in City Light’s Spotlight Series, a collection dedicated to innovative contemporary American poets, both veteran and upcoming. Since the creation of the Pocket Poets Series by Lawrence Ferlinghetti with his own collection, Pictures of the Gone World, City Lights has upheld a tradition of publishing innovative poetry from established and new writers, a legacy that Ferlinghetti founded  nearly sixty years ago. With the Spotlight Series, edited by Garrett Caples, City Lights hopes not only to shine a light on these writers but also onto the small presses that publish this kind of contemporary poetry that pushes (or disregards) boundaries.

Deep Code is John Coletti’s second full-length book. His last was Mum Halo (Rust Buckle, 2010). In Deep Code, Coletti explores a “side language” as a subset of other languages–whether slang or metaphor to communicate and to obfuscate.

In many ways, Coletti’s poems reflect an attempt to portray a restless, urban life, a poetics “distressed and fine like all the chances we forget we’re free to make, ” as stated by poet Dana Ward. Or, as fellow City Lights Spotlight alumni Alli Warren puts it, Deep Code is akin to “[walking] hand-in-hand with a tenderhearted city boy who [wants] ‘ALLLLLLL the experience’ … John Coletti expertly props our ears to what’s striking and dare I say beautiful in the terrifying realities of this world.” Coletti writes through an altogether strange and ungainly but ultimately universal collection of poems. Deep Code moves quickly, at times on a line-by-line basis, between personal reflections and ornamental lyric perceptions creating a kind of fragmentation not unlike cubism.

Find below two poems from Deep Code.

Beat Inside

Walking the world w/ a pot scarf
a placard, a fist, and a pension
working the system
all that money spent on grass
lip-twitching for days
preening best qualities
You can tell Jo. Half-baked
got me through it. then
got tremendously sad
& remembered
what it felt like to be consumed and lonely
wept for Swank. felt meek
winning the series    by myself
will fall. will all. and skewer
each of my marriages: each
supports me
just recently–things i’ve heard.


 Get Up. You Always Do.

We are the Adventurers
& we are looking for a dog
but we are not the sky
looking for our heads
to be just one stare
I made you a picture of a bird
penciled in tanagers
pigeons at sea
then one much smaller I call
folded lakes
Andy Rooney’s nephew
topless on a
Coney Island bench
licking 10oz road erases
in Coke bottle glasses
just be ok for me tonight
East River’s strung out headlights
still pushing through
covered buttons
I came to shoot hippos
but the digital world
barfed & won a bit
candy is delicious
you should eat some every day

John Coletti will be reading in San Francisco at City Lights Bookstore on Tuesday, November 25th at 7:00 PM along with Waifs and Strays author Micah Ballard. Deep Code is available today at City Lights Book Store for a 30% discount and is available wherever good poetry is sold on November 18th.

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